So, Who Is Jawad al-Maliki?

Mary Katharine Ham
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Posted: Apr 24, 2006 10:09 AM

The new Iraqi PM-designate is a bit of an under-the-radar guy.

From the Seattle Times:

BAGHDAD, Iraq — Jawad al-Maliki, the Shiite politician selected Saturday to be Iraq's first permanent prime minister, is decisive and direct and known for speaking his mind, but he has little experience in governing, Iraqi political leaders said.

Al-Maliki, 55, appeared stiff and nervous as he spoke for the first time after his nomination by Shiite political parties on Saturday morning. Flanked by Abdul-Aziz al-Hakim, Iraq's most powerful Shiite politician, as well as Ibrahim al-Jaafari, the interim prime minister, he tersely addressed the Sunni fears that he would be too Shiite for the job.

"Those who take responsibility in the new government will be representing the people, not their parties," he said. "These are the general conditions that have to be taken into consideration by the prime minister and his government."

Al-Maliki has not held a formal role in the Iraqi government since the American invasion, but his lack of experience in the executive branch might be one of his biggest strengths, some colleagues said.

"He doesn't have a lot of baggage behind him," said Mowaffak al-Rubaie, Iraq's national-security adviser and a friend of al-Maliki's. Al-Maliki comes from a middle class Shiite family in the south of Iraq.

The story also has a bit on his background, including an exile in Syria, during which he led a Shiite religious political party. He also has been working with the de-Baathification committee in Iraq since shortly after the war started.

The LAT describes him as a Shiite political activist, but notes his softening tone:

Jawad Maliki, the longtime Shiite political activist chosen as prime minister this past weekend, agreed on the need to rein in militias, soften policies that have excluded large numbers of Saddam Hussein's ruling party from public life and to appoint new government ministers not beholden to sectarian groups, Khalilzad said.

USA Today has a helpful, short bio of each new leader (scroll down on the left column), and describes al-Maliki as a man who keeps promises and gets things done, but may be unwilling to compromise in the ways necessary to bring the country together.

Iraq the Model live-blogged parliament's proceedings two days ago, but was skeptical about the possible new PM's ability to curb violence.

Bill Putnam reports from Iraq:

From what I have read, he comes across like the anti-Jaafari. If it isn't clear by now, ole Jaafari has the repuation of being weak. Maliki is tough and probably won't put up with much from anyone.

While Maliki's nomination is great I don't think this development means a general down turn in the insurgency. Plenty of people, mostly Sunni, won't like this guy for a number of reasons. First, becuase he's Shia; second, because he has a serious personal beef with the Ba'athists; third, because he's Shia; forthly, and lastly, the Bad Boys have too much time, money and blood invested in their little cause(s) to give up now.

Mark Kilmer picks up some tidbits from the Sunday Morning shows:

The next Iraqi Prime Minister will be a fellow named Jawad al Maliki. In talking to U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Zalmay Khalilzad, Late Edition host Wolf Blitzer quoted Maliki as proposing the death sentence not only for terrorists but also for their collaborators. (This reminded me of President Bush's construction: " Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists."